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Ryston
12-19-2008, 12:45 AM
The Trouble with Gnomes

Gnomes lack a strong position in D&D. If you ask someone to name the important races in the world of D&D, gnomes always seem to come in last. They're elf-dwarf-halflings- a strange mixture of the three with little to call their own besides being pranksters. DragonLance presented an iconic image of the gnome, but the concept of tinker gnomes and their crazy machiens has now been thoroughly used by games such as World of Warcraft, and many D&D players dislike the technological element that version of the gnome brings to the game.

Now that the quote is out there, I'm going to post my own thoughts. First some flame I appologize for reguarding the direction developers seem to be taking the game. Second an honest and open presentation of some thoughts on gnomes.

I structure my writing this way because it's my opinion a good discussion would be difficult were un-expressed resentment forfront on my mind. I'll be brief...

The Flame:
Ever since Salvatore wrote a wonderful series about Drizzt and his miss-understoodness it seems like D&D has turned into an outlet for the teenage identity crisis. I'm not saying that isn't good for sales and shouldn't be there... but really, those kids are wanting to feel unique. You've managed to pander to them so much that common adventurers are the rarity. Dragonborn are a core race and Gnome's are not?

The Gnome:
Gnomes DID have a clearly defined roll as a childlike race caught up in their curiosity and passion for unsolved mysteries. They represent the obsessive members of society who consume themselves with single-minded obsessions and forget how normal people take day-to-day things so seriously.

I can picture and Elf, Dwarf, or Hafling getting angry and developing some sort of vendetta. A Gnome... ? What would it really take to make a gnome lose it's temper? Since when did Elves Dwarves of Halflings become infamous for there intelligence?

If a description is incapable of conveying this I suppose the least worst TV icons would be Dr. House... or Johny 5. Or that smart kid in movies made int he 1990's who figured out some big important science secret and didn't understand why grownups were so freaked out about it.

Gnomes are the definition of a Chaotic-Neutral personality- they are childeren. Intelligence without Wisdom or social understanding.

Farcaster
12-19-2008, 02:33 AM
Moved from suggestion box to the D&D forum. The suggestion box area is for making suggestions about the site to the moderators and administrators. This is the appropriate forum for discussing D&D related topics.

fmitchell
12-19-2008, 03:24 AM
I'm not as steeped in D&D lore as most of the people here, but I still believe Gnomes never really had a strong identity. For elves and dwarves, you could go back to Tolkien; halflings evolved from hobbit knockoffs to a race of adventurers and burglars. Certainly in AD&D gnomes started as "small, illusionist dwarfs", and seemed to change niches depending on who was writing about them.

BTW, the word "gnome" itself has a checkered history. Originally created to describe alchemical "spirits of earth", it later became attached to the tomte and nisse of Scandinavian folklore.

On the other hand, I like gnomes almost because they take up the niches of elves, dwarves, and halflings. The campaign I'm working on started with a "move-one-place" reinterpretation of elves, dwarves, and orcs. Dwarves, recast as gnomes, become secretive and magical guardians of wild places. Orcs started off as delvers and master craftsmen, although I've reverted most of them back to barbarian tribesmen. And elves, tall and pretty and golden-haired, may show up as sociopathic monsters.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
12-19-2008, 03:47 AM
I do love gnomes and in my experience, if anyone says otherwise, then they are just lacking information about the gnomes culture, background, personality, idiosyncracies, and where they fit in the world, etc.

Gnomes are a very colorful and useful race in fantasy, it's just unfortunate that so many gamers take so little advantage of them. If anyone is a bit clueless about what i am talking about concerning gnomes, please dont hesitate to ask. If you do, i promise to give a bit more detail, detail i use extensively in my games, that might give you encouragement in using them in your games. It's 12:50 am here and i hesitate to regurgitate here what so many already know, but hey, i dont mind sharing if asked. :rolleyes:

One more thing, i hate the term halfling, for i prefer the term hobbit. Yeah, it's Tolkien'ish, but me's likes it better. I do however use the term halfling or peck as insulting slang used on halfings in my game. Makes for fun gameplay. Yep, you guessed it, no pc bull-pies mindset found in my games, no--none at all. :cool:

Thoth wonders how many on these boards knows where the term 'peck" comes from? :confused:

Game on! :spider: <-- Thoths spider familiar, Jr.

p.s. Good post, btw, Ryston, for it encourages debate and a sharing of ideas. :fencing:

Kazinsky
12-19-2008, 05:42 PM
I do love gnomes and in my experience, if anyone says otherwise, then they are just lacking information about the gnomes culture, background, personality, idiosyncracies, and where they fit in the world, etc....

i dont mind sharing if asked. :rolleyes:

Okay, I'll bite. Please share.

I'm of the group that has a hard time fitting the gnome into it's own solid identity. I feel that they share just a bit too much from other races to really stand out, thus they are usually relegated to an afterthought for me. I'll admit that I don't put in much effort on their part, but I feel that if they had a stronger unique identity, then there wouldn't be a need to try expend effort and place them in our worlds.

(p.s. -- I like hobbit over halfling and use halfling as a derogatory term in my worlds as well. :tea: )

Total Nerd v2.135 (final)
12-20-2008, 01:50 AM
Yeah I also love gnomes. Im not very sure why. I now feel like they are on par with humans and elves in my estimation. I especially like Svirfneblin

MortonStromgal
12-20-2008, 02:10 AM
I still want to know what happend to them in 2e ;) *dork voice on* I mean the stats totally changed! *dork voice off*

[edit] serriously I blame the novels... Gnomes of the early days pre AD&D were not the tinker types and more an offshot of the dwarves IIRC then they changed in a couple worlds and kinda became the standard and eventually the changed the stats to reflect that (2e) and the grognards complained and they put it back (3e)

[edit2] Also in pre-Tolkien fantasy myth, gnomes are hobbits more or less with a bit of puck in them sorta like perigun took. If you look at "the ring" by Wagner you get a good look at pre modern gnomes.

[edit3] I should also say that sometimes its translated dwarf for the ring and not gnome. Seeing how he was pulling it from german poetry which pulled it from norse song. I have no idea which term is correct. I just heard gnome first and stuck with it.

Zig
12-20-2008, 07:35 AM
I hate gnomes

I didn't really see any point in putting them in AD&D I think they were just looking for more PC races and threw them in there, they all looked like garden gnomes, and I remember seeing some water color art books you'd likely find on some old ladies coffee table where the gnomes all had pointed hats, fat little wives baking things, and the husband gnome (always with a red hat and blue shirt) would go around saving trapped bunnies, and flying around on eagles etc. it was a kids book, and I'm pretty sure the entire inspiration behind AD&D gnomes.

since then I think they just tried to find cooler niches to stick them in with all the wild mechanics and evil dark gnomes etc. honestly I think they're kind of pointless and lame. no reason for them. they don't add color or make things more interesting, their just kind of filling up space. I don't ever use them in the games I run, you'd never have "the gnome king" show up to give his tactical evaluation for a war with orks. I think getting rid of gnomes as a playable race is one of the very few good things about 4e and its better off without them.

but getting rid of half-orks... now THAT was a travesty.

Ryston
12-21-2008, 01:51 AM
I hate gnomes

I didn't really see any point in putting them in AD&D I think they were just looking for more PC races and threw them in there, they all looked like garden gnomes, and I remember seeing some water color art books you'd likely find on some old ladies coffee table where the gnomes all had pointed hats, fat little wives baking things, and the husband gnome (always with a red hat and blue shirt) would go around saving trapped bunnies, and flying around on eagles etc. it was a kids book, and I'm pretty sure the entire inspiration behind AD&D gnomes.

since then I think they just tried to find cooler niches to stick them in with all the wild mechanics and evil dark gnomes etc. honestly I think they're kind of pointless and lame. no reason for them. they don't add color or make things more interesting, their just kind of filling up space. I don't ever use them in the games I run, you'd never have "the gnome king" show up to give his tactical evaluation for a war with orks. I think getting rid of gnomes as a playable race is one of the very few good things about 4e and its better off without them.

but getting rid of half-orks... now THAT was a travesty.

I'll actually agree with you on the matter of half orcs.

On the matter of Gnomes though... the pranksterish qualities alone make them distinctive from a less stat-driven perspective. There society is unlike any of the others -- most akin to dwarves but hardly as serious.

If we're taking things from a stat driven perspective, there really is no point to the Half-Orc at all, nor to Halflings as compared to elves.

Look alot of changes were made, some were a step in a direction alot of us didn't want to see the game go...

But THIS step really didn't go anywhere in particular at all. Really the only thing that changed is a loss.

Zig
12-21-2008, 06:36 AM
If we're taking things from a stat driven perspective, there really is no point to the Half-Orc at all, nor to Halflings as compared to elves.



what?!? half orks were the best fighters in the game, had +1 str and con when everybody was rolling 3d6 straight for stats, or roll two and pick one. the perfect counter to the +1 dex +1 int +1 with swords and bows elves. they were the anti-elves.

bout the Gnomes, I guess the few games I played in where somebody played that race some how it was always the most annoying guy who was attracted to the prankish gnome and it tended to polute the rest of the game, like a license to take things not serious and mess with all the other "serious" characters. That I can do without.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
12-21-2008, 11:14 AM
I have my material packed away for i am moving in the next few days to the Bay Area(Castro Valley, to be exact), CA. I will be looking to join a game once my move is completed. Feel free to contact me if you have an available seat. Oh, i went off topic. My original point: give me a few weeks to complete my move, unpack, and i promise to give alot of detail regarding gnomes in my games.
--- Merged from Double Post ---

Okay, I'll bite. Please share.

I'm of the group that has a hard time fitting the gnome into it's own solid identity. I feel that they share just a bit too much from other races to really stand out, thus they are usually relegated to an afterthought for me. I'll admit that I don't put in much effort on their part, but I feel that if they had a stronger unique identity, then there wouldn't be a need to try expend effort and place them in our worlds.

(p.s. -- I like hobbit over halfling and use halfling as a derogatory term in my worlds as well. :tea: )
I have my material packed away for i am moving in the next few days to the Bay Area(Castro Valley, to be exact), CA. I will be looking to join a game once my move is completed. Feel free to contact me if you have an available seat. Oh, i went off topic. My original point: give me a few weeks to complete my move, unpack, and i promise to give alot of detail regarding gnomes in my games.

Ryston
12-21-2008, 08:24 PM
what?!? half orks were the best fighters in the game, had +1 str and con when everybody was rolling 3d6 straight for stats, or roll two and pick one. the perfect counter to the +1 dex +1 int +1 with swords and bows elves. they were the anti-elves.

bout the Gnomes, I guess the few games I played in where somebody played that race some how it was always the most annoying guy who was attracted to the prankish gnome and it tended to polute the rest of the game, like a license to take things not serious and mess with all the other "serious" characters. That I can do without.

Reguarding Orks: ... or you could make a dwarf.

Reguarding Gnomes being abused from an RP perspective: Agreed actually. I myself have made some shameful mistakes overplaying a chaotic aligned character in the past.

I don't think this is justification for exclusion though. If handled right they can be a really fun addition to the game -- both the adventuring group (if the player is good) and as a commonly found NPC (I HOPE the DM is good).

Gnomes are even excluded of metnion in Worlds and Monsters.

tesral
12-21-2008, 10:09 PM
Thoth wonders how many on these boards knows where the term 'peck" comes from? :confused:


A term of dry measure, Imperial system. A peck being 8 dry quarts or a fourth of a bushel. So as derogtory slang I would assmue it means they don't "measure up" to the standard, or a bushel.

On the subject of Gnomes

I have endeavored to give Gnomes an identity in my world. I took the idea of them as craftsman and made them sane. While Dwarves might be the major workers in metal and stone, Gnomes are good at any craft. Excellent at duplicating the styles of others, they are just as good at original work. Last they are the premier instrument makers. Be it clocks, telescopes, compasses or the like Gnomes are the people that do it best.

RealmsDM
12-21-2008, 11:32 PM
Taking gnomes out of D&D is just as bad as taking out kobolds!

And I agree with the notion that its obsurd to have dragonborn as a core race and not gnomes in 4e!

But, I trust WotC will eventually include gnomes in a further rulebook that people will purchase, along with other things purposely omitted from the original ruleset of 4e...

Zig
12-22-2008, 06:34 AM
yeah I didnt get the dragon born, the half elementals, devil-people, etc either. didnt need any of em, I think all that stuff is fine for a "so you wanna play a weird race" source book but didnt think any of em or Gnomes needed to be in the core.

about the dwarves vs half orks being the oposite of elves... both dwarves and elves are fine craftsmen (ork stuff is shoddy but functional... the AK-47s vs high tech sniper rifles) both Dwarves and Elves live nearly forever (half orks had a life span around 50 years, less than half that of a human)
both Dwarf and Elf societies were based on good (half orks had no societies, always outcasts, and tended towards evil) both dwarf and elf mate rarely or have few offspring for their spans of years (half orks have litters) dwarves aint that much diffrent than elves.

Valdar
12-22-2008, 04:08 PM
Now that the quote is out there, I'm going to post my own thoughts.

That quote is from the Races and Classes preview, from December 2007, so it's been "out there" for a year.

Gnome is listed in the teaser for PHb2 (as is half-orc), scheduled for St. Patrick's Day 09:

http://www.enworld.org/forum/general-rpg-discussion/237234-wizards-coast-spring-2009-catalog.html

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=products/dndacc/9780786950164

Though with the way they're releasing previews of future products as "content" in Dragon, I suspect we very well may see them before then.

1958Fury
12-22-2008, 04:25 PM
A term of dry measure, Imperial system. A peck being 8 dry quarts or a fourth of a bushel. So as derogtory slang I would assmue it means they don't "measure up" to the standard, or a bushel.

*sigh* How quickly we forget the Nelwyns.

tesral
12-22-2008, 06:49 PM
*sigh* How quickly we forget the Nelwyns.

Never heard of it.

1958Fury
12-22-2008, 07:21 PM
Never heard of it.

Nelwyns were the halfling-esque race in "Willow (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096446/)", and "peck" was a derogatory term for them. I think the humans were called Daikini.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
12-22-2008, 07:45 PM
Nelwyns were the halfling-esque race in "Willow (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096446/)", and "peck" was a derogatory term for them. I think the humans were called Daikini.
1958Fury won the contest. Congrats on getting the right answer. :laugh:

An honorable mention goes out to tesral for his ingenius attempt at it. Even i didnt know what 'peck' meant scientifically. I feel like i gained 1/100th of a point to my intelligence, 1st edtion rules. :rolleyes:

1958Fury
12-22-2008, 07:51 PM
1958Fury won the contest. Congrats on getting the right answer. :laugh:

Hooray, I actually passed a knowledge check!

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
12-22-2008, 07:57 PM
Hooray, I actually passed a knowledge check!
Awesome, awesome, awesome, and congrats to you. :first: prize!

It seems i must admit that i cant say the same, seems i failed my intelligence roll earlier today on a different thread. :rolleyes:

Ryston
12-22-2008, 10:03 PM
yeah I didnt get the dragon born, the half elementals, devil-people, etc either. didnt need any of em, I think all that stuff is fine for a "so you wanna play a weird race" source book but didnt think any of em or Gnomes needed to be in the core.

about the dwarves vs half orks being the oposite of elves... both dwarves and elves are fine craftsmen (ork stuff is shoddy but functional... the AK-47s vs high tech sniper rifles) both Dwarves and Elves live nearly forever (half orks had a life span around 50 years, less than half that of a human)
both Dwarf and Elf societies were based on good (half orks had no societies, always outcasts, and tended towards evil) both dwarf and elf mate rarely or have few offspring for their spans of years (half orks have litters) dwarves aint that much diffrent than elves.

I think perhaps we interpret 'counter' differently. I think of Nemsi as virtually identical beings twisted to be opposites only in some fundamental way.

You appear to be taking a route the views opposites as being, well, quite litterally contrary in every concievable way.

Reguarding which viewpoint is more valid... meh. I think that's more a matter of taste then anything else. Suffice to say Dwarves and Elves would enjoy one anothers company little more then Half-Orcs and Elves/Half-Orcs. I do admit the later comparision is far more likely to start a fight though... at least a fight with lethal intent.

I must nitpick though: I do think you're giving the AK-47 too little credit. I would definatly argue that to be of dwarven make. This becomes more apparent when you consider the comment 'shody but functional' and realise 'shody' equipment could be described as being prone to malfunction and requiring high matinence. I think I would give Orcs a break-action shotgun with an ejector that constantly jams so they have to carry a little metal pick around with them to pry the shells out with.

1958Fury
12-22-2008, 10:35 PM
I'm not sure I care which PHB a race is in, as long as it's still playable. If they'd flat out said, "This universe no longer has gnomes in it," then there might be a problem.

Anyway, I think 4e made some good choices regarding races in the PHB1. They needed a big, strong race for those who like playing brutish types, and Dragonborn really are a lot cooler than Half-Orcs.

Actually, I'm not sure half-anything should be a core race. I guess you could argue that Elf/Human interbreeding is common enough that Half-Elves deserve their own page, but Half-Orcs never felt like a real race to me. I'd rather they'd just made full Orcs a core race, then added a chart on which races can interbreed, and what stats PCs of each mix would have.

tesral
12-22-2008, 11:24 PM
I must nitpick though: I do think you're giving the AK-47 too little credit. I would definatly argue that to be of dwarven make. This becomes more apparent when you consider the comment 'shody but functional' and realise 'shody' equipment could be described as being prone to malfunction and requiring high matinence. I think I would give Orcs a break-action shotgun with an ejector that constantly jams so they have to carry a little metal pick around with them to pry the shells out with.

Orcs get those AD&D guns that blow up one time in twenty.

nijineko
12-24-2008, 12:28 PM
racial stereotyping. use it or lose it i say. make the gnomes unique and find your own niche for them, or don't use them. wotc obviously went the later route. i disagree with cutting over creativity, personally, but they have schedules and deadlines while i don't.

akela122301
12-24-2008, 12:36 PM
I personally have never played a gnome, although I may do so in the future. I believe there is nothing wrong with the gnome, as they make dandy bards and illusionists, as well as having the ability to communicate with burrowing mammals (well, that's what it says in my 3.5 PHB, anyway).
And, if I were to take part in a subterranean campaign, I may very well go with a gnome, and use the Weapon Finesse feat, or go with a gnome spellcaster.

tesral
12-24-2008, 01:52 PM
racial stereotyping. use it or lose it i say. make the gnomes unique and find your own niche for them, or don't use them. wotc obviously went the later route. i disagree with cutting over creativity, personally, but they have schedules and deadlines while i don't.

I think it has more to do with future revenues than deadlines.

nijineko
12-24-2008, 01:56 PM
i can see that too.

Valdar
12-25-2008, 03:21 PM
It also had to do with the popularity of the various races. Gnomes just weren't that popular in previous editions- less popular, as it turns out, than Tieflings and various dragon-themed races from supplements, so they made the switch.

That doesn't explain the half-orc though- the half-orc was plenty popular, but as mentioned before, I'm not sure how many people actually played a half-orc for the RP aspects vs. how many played them for the stats...

Zig
12-26-2008, 04:29 AM
I personally loved the half-ork, you couldn't find a better anti-hero race if you tried in the old books... Drow and full blood orks should get arrowed if they are seen in a human city. half-orks fit in better but they were instantly shoved into the "ignorant good for nothing but heavy labor and cannon fodder" mindset.

It was hard to get a half-ork respected but lots of fun regardless which way you went. clearly they were my second fave race (other than human) plus if you read those "ecology of the half-ork" "gods of the orks" and other articles from dragon there was a whole conan-esque mindset I enjoyed. mean and tough as an ork, sometimes just as aggressive, but more devious more tactical.

I really don't like the Dragonborn as a DM... a breath weapon at first level? why bother picking a lock or disarming a trap, or hell putting up a wooden barrier if all they gotta do is breathe on it? in 2e any character asking to play something like this I would demand they pay more xp per level... a lot more.

Then again in 4e everybody gets amazing abilities (including teleportation ugg) just seems kind of overpowering to me... I miss the old days when plain old meat,steel, and bad attitude meant something more than it does now with the pc mini-elementals/fire spitting man-dragons/ teleporting elves/ darkness throwing drow/ etc etc. where does it end? how does a lil ole thuggish half-ork compete with all that? well honestly if they were in 4e it might even make them more fun to play, just something about meeting otherworldly magic with a spiked armored fist I find really satisfying.

I had no problems with the old complete races handbook, in there anything that was over-powering was typically considered a monster, or had huge role-playing issues that would easily balance out the combat advantages.

now everything is balanced because everything is really powerful, and apparently acceptable for most of the human civs.

In regards to Gnomes... I would assume a gnome entering a human city would be an oddity, followed and possibly tormented by children, adults would always try picking them up or trying to find out which family lost a very ugly child etc, or just plain ignored. Then just naturally being so small, they would get stepped on or shoved constantly. Come to think of it, it would suck to be a gnome in a human city, almost as bad as a half-ork. lol.